Largest CNG fueling station to find home in Greeley
For all the clean air enthusiasts in Weld County there’s good news around the corner. Greeley will soon be home to the largest compressed natural gas fueling station in the state.
The more than $2 million project at the Highpointe Business Park at Colo. 257 and U.S. 34 in West Greeley also will offer options to charge electric vehicles and to fill up on propane.
All three alternative fuel options planned for the Ward Energy site are cheaper and more efficient forms of fuel, said Ward Energy President Paul Nelson.
This is the fourth CNG station Ward will open in Weld County, and Nelson said this one came at the request of some of Weld’s business owners.
“Noble Energy and Dillon Transportation and other fleets requested that we build this facility to support their natural gas truck needs,” Nelson said.
The state also will help fund this project with a $500,000 grant.
Although the fueling station is being constructed with fleet use in mind, Nelson said it is absolutely open to the public.
Just like a normal gas station, people will pull up to the pump, swipe their card and fuel up. There will be free WiFi available on site and a restroom but no convenience store.
Ward said it is a smart move for fleets and individuals alike to choose natural gas, whether by converting their car of upgrading to a natural gas vehicle.
“It’s stable and it’s cheap,” Nelson said. “There’s price stability to natural gas because all the natural gas we bring to the fueling station is made in the U.S.”
While oil and gas prices are driven by a global market, natural gas is domestic, Nelson said.
“The average price for the last five years was $2 per gallon,” Nelson said. “Diesel was almost $4 per gallon over the last five years.”
It’s also sustainable, he said, with more than a 100-year supply of natural gas beneath U.S. soil.
“In other words, we know where the gas is and we know we can get it out of the ground at today’s prices,” he said.
County officials have jumped on board the CNG train.
Weld County Transportation Planner Elizabeth Relford said the county has been trying to build the infrastructure for natural gas and other alternative fueling options for about five years. She said the infrastructure is necessary to encourage businesses and people to convert to natural gas.
“It just turns in to the whole chicken-and-the-egg-thing,” she said. “What we are doing is we’re asking fleets to consider it,” and having the infrastructure in place helps.
The first CNG fueling station came to Weld in July 2012. Other local CNG infrastructure has since followed and can be found in Fort Lupton, Gilcrest and Kersey.
Relford said CNG makes the best economic sense right now. Although vehicles run on CNG may cost more, they are way more efficient and much better for the environment, she said.
Relford said that converting one truck to natural gas has the environmental impact of taking 325 gas-fed cars off the road.
In 2009, the Weld County Smart Energy alliance was formed to carry out some of the county’s plans, Relford said.
Relford said they have converted 10 to 15 vehicles per year since 2010. She said it makes the most economic sense. The government even offers tax credits to those who run natural gas vehicles.
The county has a snow plow truck and nine semi trucks that run on natural gas, among other vehicles.
For companies looking to make the change, Relford said to take it one step at a time.
“We use it as part of our vehicle replacement program,” she said. “We recommend that when fleets replace, to try to replace with a natural gas vehicle.”
Nelson said Ward Energy is committed to building the infrastructure to make northern Colorado natural gas friendly.
“We’re working on three (fueling stations) right now just in northern Colorado,” he said, and they have another five stations in the permitting phase that could be built later this year. At the west Greeley station, they will begin construction this spring and open later in the year, he said.
“Natural gas is cheap, plentiful. It’s clean and it’s domestic,” Nelson said. He said Coloradans should take advantage of it because “we make it here.”